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Ferrer’s last Slam ends with injury against Nadal at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) There was something bittersweet about David Ferrer’s last Grand Slam match. Yes, he got to depart by sharing the court with his friend and Spanish Davis Cup teammate Rafael Nadal, under the lights on the big stage of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open.

He also was forced to quit for the first time in 208 contests at major tournaments, an ironic adieu for a guy known as one of the most indefatigable players in tennis.

Nadal was ahead 6-3, 3-4 after less than 1+ hours of the first-round match when Ferrer stopped because of an injured left calf that began bothering him in the first set and kept getting worse in the second.

“I’m sad because it’s my last Grand Slam. I was enjoying playing the match against Rafa. I was playing good. But anyway, I am proud with myself, with my career,” said Ferrer, whose best showing at a major was his runner-up finish at the 2013 French Open.

The man who beat him in that title match? Nadal.

“I am 36 years old,” Ferrer said. “It’s time to be home.”

He’s not quite done with his sport, though. Ferrer, who was ranked as high as No. 3 but is currently 148th, made clear he plans to play a selective schedule of tournaments in 2019.

Still, this felt like a farewell, both to him and to Nadal.

“He deserved a better finish,” Nadal said. “I am sad for him.”

They are just the fifth pair of men to play in the first round at a Slam after having met in a major final. In all, this was their 31st tour-level meeting; Nadal won 25.

The only men with more victories over Nadal than Ferrer’s six? Novak Djokovic with 27, Roger Federer with 15 and Andy Murray with seven.

“We played in very important finals for both of us. We played important matches for both of us. Yeah, we shared a lot of very important moments in our lives together,” Nadal said. “He will be one of these guys that the tour will miss, because he is one of the players that is a good guy. The tour loves him.”

Ferrer was asked whether he regretted playing at a time when the Big Four of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray dominated the sport.

He said that’s not the way he thinks about it, and that it was “a pleasure to play with them, with maybe the best generation,” because they motivated him to strive to improve.

After Monday night’s match, Federer saluted Ferrer with a tweet that conveyed “ultimate respect.”

Others offered other words of praise, including 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who said after winning his first-round match Monday that Ferrer “was the kind of player no one wanted to face.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Wimbledon odds for men’s draw have Federer favored over Nadal

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Incumbency bias might somewhat account for the disparity in odds on men’s tennis titans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon betting futures.

Federer, who has won the Grand Slam championship in London a mind-bending eight times, is listed as the +150 favorite on the Wimbledon men’s champion betting futures, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Nadal, who has split the last six Grand Slam titles with Federer 3-3, is the second favorite at +500.

Thanks to his superior record on grass courts, Federer is the No. 1 seed with Nadal at No. 2 on the opposite side of the draw, which is the inverse of their overall rankings.

It is understandable if bettors want to stick by the seemingly ageless wonder Federer, who skipped the clay court season to focus his energy on dominating on grass at the All England Club. However, it’s worth remembering that upsets and injuries to upper-echelon players aided his path to the 2017 championship and the law of averages would suggest that’s unlikely to happen twice in a row.

Nadal has not made a Wimbledon final since 2011 but getting the No. 1-ranked player at 5-to-1 odds has some high-risk, high-reward appeal.

Beyond the big two, a good tack for bettors seeking value might be drawing a bead on results rather than reputation – the big names who go high on the board. Novak Djokovic (+650) is getting some respect on the tennis odds, but the elbow problem that cut his 2017 season short makes him a chancy pick.

Alexander Zverev (+800) has had minimal grass-court time this spring, while home-country rooting interest Andy Murray (+900) has also been contending with injury problems.

Value-minded bettors might want to look at 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic (+1200), who won the Queen’s Club tune-up tournament (in a bit of foreshadowing, he was the 2017 runner-up before having the same result at Wimbledon). Juan Martin del Potro (+1200) has not played on grass this season, but the hulking Argentinian has beaten Federer this season and, as the No. 5 seed, should be on the same side of the draw.

Inconsistency probably strikes taking a flier on either Nick Kyrgios (+1600) or Grigor Dimitrov (+2000) on the 2018 Wimbledon odds while Milos Raonic (+2000) has also been injury-prone over the last year.

Wimbledon begins at the All England Club on Monday, with the women’s final scheduled for July 14, followed by the men’s final on July 15.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

With 11th French, Nadal not obsessed with Federer’s 20 Slams

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PARIS (AP) Rafael Nadal’s 11th French Open title raised his Grand Slam trophy count to 17, three away from the men’s record held by Roger Federer.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Nadal is fixated on catching his rival.

“Of course I would love to have 20, like Roger, in the future – or even more,” Nadal said Sunday evening after beating Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the final at Roland Garros, “but being honest, (it’s) something that is not in my mind.”

He added that it’s not an “obsession.”

“Let me enjoy this title,” Nadal said. “I can’t be always thinking of more. Of course, I have ambition. Of course, I have passion for what I am doing. But I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff. No, you can’t be frustrated always if somebody has more money than you, if somebody have a bigger house than you, if somebody have more Grand Slams than you. You can’t live with that feeling, no?”

Nadal’s uncle, Toni, who used to also be his coach, attended Sunday’s match and was asked afterward whether Rafael can pull even with Federer.

“I want to think that is possible,” Toni said. “But I know (that) maybe in one month, Federer will win again Wimbledon.”

Federer, of course, sat out the French Open to rest and prepare for the grass-court season. He did the same a year ago, and then went on to claim his record eighth championship at the All England Club, where play begins July 2.

The only man with more titles at a single major is Nadal in Paris. He is now 86-2 at the French Open – and, by the looks of things, as good as ever at the place.

Here are other things we learned at the 2018 French Open:

HALEP CAN WIN THE BIG ONE

After losing her first three Grand Slam finals, Simona Halep added major championship No. 1 to her No. 1 ranking by coming back to defeat Sloane Stephens in three sets. Halep kept insisting she needed to do it, and could do it – and she was correct. “Now she can relax, go out there, let her game go,” said her coach, Darren Cahill.

SERENA STILL SUPERB

At her first major in 16 months, and first as a mother, Serena Williams showed with three victories that she still has the game and the grit to go far and – even at age 36 – could be a threat to add to her 23 major titles. She withdrew from the field before her much-anticipated fourth-rounder against Maria Sharapova, citing a chest muscle injury, so it’s not clear whether Williams will be someone to watch at Wimbledon.

NOT THEIR TIME YET

Runner-up Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, might very well be the second-best player on clay in the world, but there’s still a large gap, at least at Roland Garros, where he is 0-3 against Nadal. Thiem and the man he beat in the quarterfinals, 21-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany, are the two most well-rounded rising stars in the game. The question is when each will be ready for the next step.

AMERICAN WOMEN

Before her loss to Halep, Stephens, 25, eliminated Madison Keys, 23, in the first all-American semifinal at the French Open since 2002, when Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati. “All in all,” Stephens said, “I don’t think anyone can complain.” It was also a rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final, in which Stephens topped Keys. For all the hand-wringing in years past over what would happen to U.S. women’s tennis after the Williams sisters, they seem to be in pretty good shape. Plus, consider this: Coco Gauff, a 14-year-old from Florida, beat Caty McNally, a 16-year-old from Ohio, in the junior final, the fourth time at the last five Grand Slam tournaments that two Americans played each other for the girls’ title.

DON’T LEAVE!

One important lesson from this French Open: If you fail to make it out of qualifying, do not skip town. Thanks to a new rule that awards some prize money to players making late injury withdrawals, more than a half-dozen men got into the draw as a “lucky loser” to replace those who pulled out. None of the beneficiaries was more celebrated than 190th-ranked Marco Trungelliti. He headed home to Barcelona after being beaten in qualifying, then learned he could sign up for a spot in the field. So he made the 10-hour drive back to Paris with his 88-year-old grandmother, mother and younger brother in a rental car, then went out and won in the first round.

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis